The Conveyancing Process Explained
The conveyancing process is a fundamental part of purchasing a home. However, it can be a complicated process, particularly for first-time buyers who haven't purchased property before.
In this guide we will explain what conveyancing is, the role played by a conveyancer or conveyancing solicitor and provide a step-by-step guide to the conveyancing process.
What is conveyancing?
The term conveyancing refers to process that must be completed to legally transfer a property from one owner to another.
A conveyancing solicitor or licensed conveyancer works with a buyer to make sure the legal and administrative work required to purchase a house is completed correctly and in a legally valid manner.
What does a conveyancer do?
A licensed conveyancer or conveyancing solicitor has a range of duties to fulfill, including:
- Obtaining the mortgage offer for the buyer
- Requesting the payment of the mortgage advance from the buyer’s lender
- Conducting local authority searches about a property and its surrounding area
- Obtaining a contract pack from the seller’s solicitor/conveyancer
- Swapping signed contracts with the seller’s solicitor/conveyancer
- Arranging potential completion dates with both parties
- Transferring the deposit to the seller’s solicitor/conveyancer
- Transferring the balance of the purchase price to the seller’s solicitor/conveyancer
- Transferring the signed transfer deeds to the seller’s conveyancer
- Dealing with HM Revenue & Customs to pay Stamp Duty Land Tax
- Dealing with the transfer of ownership and Land Registry
- Preparing and forwarding the completion statement and transfer deeds
The conveyancing timeline step-by-step
It’s all well and good understanding the range of responsibilities of a conveyancer or conveyancing solicitor, but when does each step take place, and how long does it take?
Below we have put together a general outline of the conveyancing process timeline to give you a better idea of the step-by-step procedure that is followed. Remember, however, that unforeseen delays can occur, plus the buyer and seller can dictate the pace of certain elements of the process - so every single case is different.
Phase One | Before exchanging contracts
Once an offer has been accepted and the seller and buyer have both agreed terms and instructed solicitors, it’s time to get some paperwork done.
At this point the seller’s solicitor will supply the draft contract, in addition to a range of other forms and information about the property, often including the title deeds from the seller’s existing mortgage lender.
From here, the buyer’s solicitor will check the contract pack and raise any enquiries they may have about the contract with the seller’s solicitor.
In addition, it is at this point they will conduct local authority searches relating to the property and the surrounding area, and check the buyer’s mortgage offer.
Both sets of solicitors will then arrange the signing of the contract and the transfer of the deposit, before confirming a completion date.
Phase Two | Exchanging contracts
At around the eight-week stage, contracts should be exchanged and signed.
Phase Three | Completion
After the contracts have been signed, completion documents are drafted up by the buyer’s solicitor, which are checked and approved by the seller’s solicitor. The seller’s solicitor will also calculate a completion figure which outlines the total amount payable to the seller.
The buyer’s solicitor should also carry out Land Registry and bankruptcy searches, before requesting the mortgage advance from the lender.
Signature of the completion documents is then arranged by the two parties.
Phase four | Land Registry
Once the completion documents have been completed by both parties, the purchase and mortgage must be registered with Land Registry, which will be taken care of by the buyer’s solicitor.
When title deeds are obtained from Land Registry, the buyer’s solicitor will send them to the mortgage lender.